4. External services

Once the basic access and reference services are provided, a sound archive may branch out into auxiliary or development services which will include various forms of dissemination and distribution of its collection. These external services are a legitimate and necessary sound archive function. They serve to advertise and stimulate further demand for access and are a positive exploitation of archival holdings. These services are:

 (a) Publications
A sound archive should strive to produce a general guide to the entire recorded sound holdings in its custody.1 Traditionally, such a guide is arranged by collections or accessions where a brief content description of each collection is provided noting the number of items, the primary subject coverage and the date the collection spans. The sound archive may also issue special lists of recordings based upon subject, event or speaker, for example, or it may produce discographies of certain composers, musicians or vocalists. 2 It may even be possible simply to reproduce and publish in microfilm or book form the sound archive's internal card catalog,3 or to furnish inexpensive hardcopy printouts of an automated catalogue of holdings.

To announce new accessions a sound archive may consider distributing a periodic newsletter, or issuing press releases describing newly acquired collections and their availability.

(b) Exhibitions

A sound archive may wish to provide copies of selected recordings and descriptive materials for use in exhibitions. It is often possible to furnish high quality photo facsimiles of original recordings which provide the visual exhibit matching the audio item being used. Under special circumstances and proper safeguards, to prevent environmental damage, loss or theft, a sound archive may permit the use of original recordings as display artefacts. The sharing of archival sound documents in cooperative exhibits with other archives and libraries can serve the dual purpose of disseminating knowledge and appreciation of the history of recorded sound as well as advertizing the sound archive's holdings.

(c) Loan and Sales Services

In addition to providing copies of recordings for individual users on a sales basis through the research room or by mail order, a sound archive may institute arrangements with other institutions, such as schools or libraries, to lend copies of its recordings. It may be possible to utilize and become part of an existing inter-library loan procedure or develop regional or national lending schemes. The principle to be adhered to is that loans be made to other sound archives, libraries or research institutions and not to private individuals.

It should be noted that a loan program, while highly desirable in providing wide dissemination, almost always requires separate staff to control, handle and process loan requests. A separate inspection procedure is also required to check outgoing and returned loan copies.

(d) Collaborative Research Projects

It may be possible for a sound archive to develop arrangements with university history, music or media departments to encourage teachers and their students to work with particular collections of recordings. Archival projects involving arrangement and description may be developed by sound archives and geared for students working under the supervision of teachers and archives personnel. Specific projects could be designed, such as to investigate a certain composer's work or to examine a particular speaker's or vocalist's style. Projects of this kind serve the academic and educational institutions and foster the use of recorded sound, while also providing the archive with identification and descriptive information for cataloging purposes. If the project work is properly structured and managed, what sound archive does not need its holdings rearranged, shifted, consolidated, labelled, rejacketed and inspected? These basic projects are excellent for volunteer and student-intern programs.

(e) Programs for Teaching and Broadcast Use

A method of dissemination of enormous potential for sound archives is to arrange with educational publishers to produce edited audio or multi-media packages utilizing archival sound recordings as teaching aids. Independent audiovisual producers and radio stations may also be willing to prepare programs or series for broadcast use based on archival holdings.

(f) Institutional Exchanges and Transfers

It is recommended that a sound archive develops a policy for the exchange or transfer of sound recordings with other archives or research institutions. This policy may range from covering the simple transfer of original recordings from one archive to another (either because such recordings strengthen, fill in or complete a collection, or the items cover a topic, artist, or special subject concentrated on in one particular archive) to more complicated agreements covering the exchange of duplicates that often accumulate among published recordings in an archive's holdings. 4 The result of exchanges and transfers between archives ultimately benefit research needs by providing for the consolidation of collections or by making recordings more widely available in different locations. With transfers of original recordings, the transferring sound archive must be careful to obtain the concurrence of the donors or owners of the material and the receiving archive to respect any restrictions involved.

(g) National and International Cataloguing Projects

As a sound archive develops internal finding aids and catalogues its archival sound recordings, it should disseminate this information by becoming part of cooperative efforts with other archives and libraries to create a compatible data base of descriptive information on recorded sound. 5 Efforts in this direction are already underway. For example, in the United States, five major sound archives have developed a project to produce a union catalogue of pre-LP discs (78s) held by the institutions. 6

  1. Good examples are Gagne, J. (Comp.) Sound Archives Section: Inventory of Main Holdings; Ottawa: Public Archives of Canada; 1979 and Bray, M. and Waffen, L.C. Sound Recordings in the Audiovisual Archives Division of the National Archives; Washington: National Archives; 1972.
  2. See for example the select lists issued by the National Archives of the United States, Sound Recordings: Voices 0 World War II, 1937-194.5 (1971); The Crucial Decade: Voices of the Postwar Era, 1945-1954 (1978); an Captured German Sound Recordings (1979).  The Finnish Institute of Recorded Sound in Helsinki published valuable discographies of Finnish artists on American record labels, and the British Institute of Recorded Sound has issued artist discographies of many kinds in its quarterly Recorded Sound journal.
  3. A sampling would be Cluley, L. and Engelbrecht, P. (Eds.) Dictionary Catalog of the G. Robert Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University; Boston: G.K. Gall; 1975; Museum of Broadcasting Subject Guide to the Radio and Television Collection of the Museum of Broadcasting Second Edition 1979 produced from the Museum’s database. Also an excellent model of an automated catalogue is that issued by the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, 135 Bradley Hall, Newark, NJ 07102 USA which produces the IJS Jazz Register and Indexes on microfiche providing access by performer, group, title of selection, composer, arranger, label name, and issue number.
  4. There are numerous examples of this service among sound archives. In 1948, a rare collection of 3500 wax and dictaphone cylinders of field recordings of native American Indian music, known as the Frances Densmore Collection, was transferred by the National Archives of the United States to the Archive of Folk Song at the Library of Congress. In L978, the Library of Congress and Country Music Foundation in Nashville, Tennessee, with the necessary legal-clearances, established an ongoing exchange program covering disc duplicates of Armed Forces Radio(AFRS) broadcast recordings. In addition, although not widely publicized, many sound archives have arrangements with established dealers, organizations, and companies for the exchange of unrestricted surplus and duplicate recordings in return for recordings the archives need.
  5. Such an international data base does not yet exist for archival collections of sound recordings. An excellent model, however, for sound archives to follow would be RISM, the cooperative international project to produce a catalogue of printed music published before 1801.
  6. The five institutions (Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Stanford University, Syracuse University, and Yale University) termed the Associated Audio Archives (AAA), have completed a pilot project and a comprehensive report under the auspices of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC). Funding to begin the project, involving over 600,000 pre-'LP' recordings, has been obtained. The two to three year project will be administered by ARSC.